Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Snapshot of Rural America

When I worked at VA, rural health was a large focus. Individuals who lived in rural settings tended to have less access to health care, specialists in particular (basically, anything that isn't primary care) - not because of economic limitations, but rather because small towns tended to have small medical practices and were unlikely to have the larger clinics or hospitals that would have specialists. In fact, in much of our research, we used urban v. rural location as one of the variables in our analyses, whether the cases in the analyses were individuals (Veterans in this case), clinics, or whole hospitals. Between that and growing up in Kansas (the part I'm from is very urban, but I was familiar with the more rural locations), I know a little about the differences between rural and urban residents. Not only does location influence what type of care someone has access to, urban/rural location also correlates with some important political and social differences.

Our recent presidential election is one example of the interplay and differences between rural and urban America. While Clinton garnered votes in large urban locations, Trump won votes from rural voters and some from smaller cities - despite being one of the city dwellers he attacked during his campaign. This has prompted many discussions on the differences between these voters, though many of the "differences" people discuss are based more on stereotypes (e.g., they're all farmers) than reality. Today, CityLab shared recent Census results to demonstrate just who these rural voters are:
Around 78 percent of residents in these areas identify as white. The remaining segment contains a mix of races and ethnicities—Native Americans, African Americans in the South, and Mexicans near the US.-Mexico border, along with seasonal workers from other parts of Latin America. Some rural counties in Texas, North Carolina, Idaho, and Kansas have large concentration of immigrants.

Only nine percent of rural workers are in agriculture, while 12 percent work in manufacturing. A larger share work at schools, hospitals, or in someone’s home as a caregiver—not on the farm. Some 22 percent are employed in the education and health services industry.

Sixty percent of the rural population lives east of the Mississippi, and almost half lives in the South. The most rural states aren’t lonely and lightly populated Alaska or Wyoming but two New England states: Vermont and Maine.

Overall, rural families are earning as much as urban ones. Median household income in the country is $52,386, compared to $54,296 for city families. But rural poverty levels are lower—only 13.3 percent compared to 16 percent in cities.

In America, owning a home has long been the primary way to build wealth. And in that regard, rural America is set, with a homeownership rate of 81 percent. Urban areas only have a 60 percent homeownership rate.

No comments:

Post a Comment